TORONTO — Entrepreneur and Startup TanenbaumCHAT founder Daniel Warner said he hopes the inaugural conference will expose Jewish students to the endless possibilities in the business world.
Warner, an Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew School of Toronto alum, said he was inspired to organize the event after noticing that in his four years of speaking at the TanenbaumCHAT career day, he was always the only entrepreneur on the panel.
“I wanted to educate them and empower them to know that they too can create a business and follow their passion and essentially build their future as opposed to someone else’s. If they want to work for a big corporation, that’s totally fine. We just want them to know that they can go out and create their own business and be their own boss,” said Warner, an MBA graduate from the Schulich School of Business, and the VP strategy and brand partnerships for SnapSaves, a digital grocery coupon app.
He said he approached TanenbaumCHAT’s advancement department with the idea for a day-long entrepreneurship-themed conference.
“I suggested that I bring in my colleagues from the startup space, whether they are investors, advisers, lawyers, experts, incubators, social entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who work in Israel – literally, the entire spectrum,” he said.
When Warner, 31, was a student at TanenbaumCHAT, he was working towards becoming a pediatrician, taking courses in biology, chemistry and physics. It wasn’t until he enrolled at the Westmount Collegiate Institute for an extra year of high school that he took a course in business administration.
“That ultimately led me to study business in my undergrad, getting my MBA, starting six different startups in marketing and media and technology and social media and I was inspired, especially while I was in university, to bring these opportunities to kids really early on.”
The event offered eight panels that focused on topics including women entrepreneurs, business incubators in Toronto, Israel’s startup nation, and venture capitalism.
In addition to the 30 plus business leaders who participated in the panels were two keynote speakers – fashion designer and entrepreneur Erin Kleinberg, and Ryerson University business professor and co-founder of Canada’s Ernst & Young’s Venture Capital Advisory Group, Sean Wise.
The event also featured a networking dinner that allowed the 125 students who registered for the event to converse with the participants, and a competition modelled after the popular television show called Dragon’s Den.
“A really great part was our Dragon’s Den competition, which we called Beit Dragon. We had a panel of dragons and… the winning team got a maximum of $2,000 per team, so $500 per person, and it was awesome. There were 12 entries into the competition.”
He said the winning concept was a food delivery service for university and college students.
“If someone is looking for a home-cooked meal or several, it is essentially a courier service where parents would be able to ship out home-cooked food to their kids.”
Warner, who plans to make this an annual event, wants the students at his alma mater to understand that even those who don't have ambitions to run a business can benefit from entrepreneurial knowledge.
“For those people who are keen on being professionals – doctors, lawyers, accountants, what have you – they still need some business acumen to build their practice or firm. We also wanted to educate those kids… For them to be truly successful, they have to treat it like it’s their own business,” he said.